When the Cape Doctor blows, it really blows and the Doctor was in the house for the start of the third leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. The Cape Doctor is the name given to the gale force winds that often blow in the Cape Province of South Africa, so named because the wind was said to blow the dust and germs out to sea ushering in fresh, clean air behind it. This time the Cape Doctor made for a challenging start for the seven boats preparing for a Southern Ocean romp to Melbourne, Australia.
The tension was palpable as the sailors put their best game face forward and the racing was close as the yachts duked it out on the short inshore course before leaving the lee of Table Mountain and heading for deeper water. It was a brisk beat along the mountainous Cape coast and then a few short tacks to round the Cape of Good Hope, sometimes known as the Cape of Storms for the very conditions being flung at the VOR fleet.
After a rough first night a ridge of his pressure brought in calmer conditions but it’s only a temporary respite. All sailors know that the best way to get Melbourne is to dive south as quick as possible to pick up the westerly winds of the Roaring Forties, but the high pressure was doing its best to foil plans. A little over a day into the leg the fleet had split with Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag taking a more northerly route and in doing so, taking an early lead.